How many hours have you spent attempting to get a client’s vision right? Whether you’re designing a logo, a website, or marketing materials, it’s not easy to translate a vision into reality. It’s not even that easy to understand exactly what your client wants.
To be honest, your job as a designer is hard because most clients don’t really know what they want. They have a general idea, and might have a preferred color scheme, but lack a specific vision. That’s why they hire designers. Clients want a designer who can create designs that bring their abstract, fuzzy, and incomplete vision to life.
If you want to nail a client’s vision, you have to be willing to try a bunch of preliminary ideas to narrow down what they want. That takes time. The following 3 strategies will make that process easier and will waste less of your time.
1. Be clever, but not too clever
If you look around at all the major corporations, you’ll find their logos to be pretty clever. For instance, McDonalds, Starbucks, Apple, and Nike all have iconic and clever logos. Some logos, like Starbucks and Apple, relate directly to the company’s name. For example, in Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick, Starbuck is Captain Ahab’s first mate. It was a genius move to depict a twin tailed siren in the Starbucks logo.
Trying to create a logo as a visual play on words is creative, but many clever ideas will be completely lost on your clients’ customers. For example, say your client’s last name is ‘Pine’ and you want to use a pine tree in their logo. That’s definitely a clever idea, but most people won’t get the association. Instead of seeing a pine tree, most people will just see a tree. If a tree has nothing to do with your client’s business, it’s a bad design idea.
If you’re going to attempt to create a logo that plays with your client’s name, start with subtle design ideas. For example, Austin property management company Green Residential uses a green color scheme as a visual play on the company’s name. It’s simple, clever, and memorable at the same time.
2. Ask questions and more questions
You can’t ask your clients too many questions when it comes to extracting their vision for whatever design you’re creating. Some of the best questions you can ask are:
- What popular designs do you like and why? This question isn’t intended to give you ideas to copy. The purpose of asking this question is to gather examples that will give you insight into your client’s design preferences.
For example, say a client loves the McDonald’s logo because the golden arches make them think of their famous hot, crispy fries. Your client will probably respond best to a design that captures the value of their product. On the other hand, a client who likes the McDonald’s logo because it’s simple and memorable will probably respond best to a simple or even abstract design that is unique and memorable.
- What popular designs turn you off? Find out what designs turn your client off to get an idea of what they’re likely to reject. Your time is valuable and the last thing you want to do is try a design in a style they dislike. For instance, if a client doesn’t like logos that use clipart, then avoid clipart at all costs. Your client might have a preference for thick or thin lines, gradients, solid colors, or shading and not be able to pinpoint that preference until they see what they don’t like.
- How do you want people to feel when looking at the design? This question may not be applicable in all situations, but sometimes it will be relevant. Emotions drive decisions in all aspects of life. Whatever you’re designing has the potential to impact your clients’ market and influence them to make specific decisions.
For example, say you’re designing a website for a non-profit organisation that removes plastic waste from the ocean. Your designs should elicit the emotions that will inspire people to get involved by making a donation or doing something in their own lives to eliminate plastic waste.
3. Study marketing
You might be able to create stunning, award-winning designs, but those designs won’t be effective unless they’re in alignment with basic marketing principles. Study marketing as much as possible to maximise the efficacy of your designs.
Nailing a vision is a process
Remember that getting your client’s vision right is a process that involves conversation and experimentation. With dedication and a little patience, over time, you’ll get better at capturing your clients’ visions.